WATER – pure, clear, calorie-free, fat-free. You may crave it when you feel thirsty or curse the lack of it when you become dehydrated – But how much credit do you give water on a daily basis? Water is the ultimate nutrient, especially for athletes. Roughly three-quarters of your body weight is water. Muscles are 70 -75 percent water. Water is the medium in which the body conducts almost all of its activities. Go a month without food and you can survive. Go a few days without water and you may not survive.
When the temperature outside rises, your water intake becomes even more important. Dehydration can occur when not enough is consumed to replace all that is lost through perspiration, urination, and other body processes. Approximately two liters of water can be lost each day under normal conditions. During moments of prolonged exercise, over a liter an hour can be eliminated through sweating. When the temperature outside rises, that amount can dramatically increase during intense exercise. Sweat losses of as little as 2 percent of your body weight can impair your ability to perform athletic feats. How? Sweating reduces your blood volume, especially if you don’t drink while exercising. This drop in blood volume will reduce your ability to take in and use oxygen, which decreases your endurance as well as your ability to handle the heat. Classic early signs of inadequate hydration (even when you are not exercising) include dizziness, feeling light-headed, headaches, loss of appetite, darkly colored urine, lack of energy and fatigue.
Without sufficient amounts of water, the body cannot cool itself, the digestive system becomes less efficient, and the joints in the body are not properly lubricated. Stay on top of your fluid needs by drinking a minimum of 8 to 10 cups (2.0 to 2.5 liters) of fluid a day. Body water can be replaced with any beverage including milk, fruit juices, and through many of the foods we eat. Coffee and tea are poor choices because they act as diuretics. Cold water, below 50 degrees F, is absorbed faster than water at room temperature. It is best to sip water rather than gulping it down. Almost anything added to water slows down its absorption. As soon as you dissolve anything in water, say sugar, absorption slows. Pure water is absorbed faster than any other liquid. Many commercial sports drinks containing high levels of glucose or sucrose are not advisable to use during exercise because of the length of time that it takes your body to sort out the glucose or sucrose.
Here are some tips to help increase and ensure you maximize your daily fluid intake:
– Start your day conscious of the need to stay hydrated. Drink a cup (8 ounces) of water when you get up in the morning.
– If you take vitamins or other supplements, take them with a full glass of water, not just a few sips.
– Drink at least one cup of water or another healthy beverage with all of your meals and snacks.
– For easy access, get in the habit of keeping a water jug on your desk and carry a water bottle with you when traveling or running errands.
– Hydrate before you head out to exercise by drinking at least two cups during the two hours before exercise.
It is quite clear to see why WATER is our most important nutrient. Our planet thrives with it. We could not survive without it. Get in the habit of teaching yourself when to re-hydrate. Be conscious of increasing your water intake during periods of extreme heat waves. You will definitely be healthier for it … ‘Believe In Yourself’ and “Stay Thirsty My Friend” …